The Anglican/Episcopal Presence in Nablus

The Anglican Church in this region is alive and well and doing great work. It serves not only its faithful Christian community but also the community at large of every faith with its social outreach and support of schools , hospitals and clinics and youth and children and the elderly.

I am being hosted by the Parish of St. Philip’s Nablus which has two churches : The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rafidiya – a traditional Christian neighbourhood, and St. Philips Church, just on the edge of the old city.  A few years ago when I first visited the Good Shepherd Church it looked like the picture on the left below. Due to rapid building and development in the area it now looks like the picture on the right.

The church of St. Philip is a beautiful old Palestinian style building

Church of St. Philip, Nablus

Anglican Church of St. Philip, Nablus

St. Philips also runs a daycare kindergarten and preschool for about 40 tiny tots and I have the privilege of sharing songs and play with them a few days a week. The children, who come from all faiths and the poorer neighborhoods in the city,  have classrooms and facilities and a lovely big courtyard and play area – which shares a common wall with the Mosque

Clergy

The priest in the Parish of St. Philip’s, Nablus is Father Ibrahim, and he and his family are generous hosts. He has given me the church hall as an office – the largest office I have ever had !

The parish hall, St. Philip's, Nablus

The church hall, St. Philip’s, Nablus

Father Ibrahim is also a Judge of the Church Court. Legal matters concerning marriages and divorce and wills and Inheritances are adjudicated by the religious courts in Palestine. This was customary in both Jewish and Islamic societies , so during the British Mandate Church Courts and clergy judges were set up in the main christian denominations. So from time to time Fr. Ibrahim has to don his wig and gown (ahem! -joke) and preside over important legal cases.

Father Ibrahim also has a clear and beautiful vision of a path to peace in the Holy land and I will say more about that in a future article.

The Diocese of Jerusalem

In talking about the Diocese of Jerusalem I can do no better than include the message from Archbishop Dawani from the diocesan website:

Welcome from Archbishop Suheil

Welcome From Archbishop Suheil Dawani, 14th Anglican Bishop In Jerusalem

Welcome to the website of the Diocese of Jerusalem. I hope you will find it informative and interesting and I encourage you to engage with our work and mission here in the Middle East.

The Diocese of Jerusalem covers five countries and is home to almost thirty parishes. Our healthcare and education ministries are active and growing across the region with the provision of hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, and schools. Alongside these ministries the Diocesan Peace and Reconciliation department continues to work at strengthening the interfaith dialogue with our fellow Jews and Muslims. Our Kids4Peace  programme in turn strives to educate the next generation in a language of tolerance and acceptance.

 

These ministries serve to sustain and strengthen our Christian presence as we teach respect and concern for all people, bringing hope to many, regardless of faith, where the light of hope is often dim. With a dwindling church membership due to emigration caused by local strife and economic hardship, the ministry here has more than the usual challenges. The maintenance of the historic Arab Christian presence, the ‘Living Stones,’ is vital therefore to the future stability of the region as we put our faith into action ‘loving our neighbours as ourselves.’

As part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Diocese of Jerusalem welcomes the support and prayers of all. Come and visit us, become Ambassadors for peace, tell others in your church communities about our work, and remember us in your prayers. If peace is possible in Jerusalem, peace will be possible across the world.

Join us in our mission.

You will always be welcome.

 

 

The Most Revd Suheil S. Dawani

Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem

Peace, Salaam, Shalom from The Parish of St. Philip Nablus Palestine and the Holy Land

Mel Nov 2016

 

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